The Working Poor: Helping Low-Income Families

One of Volunteers of America’s greatest strengths is our diversity. Our work touches a wide variety of needs, including homelessness, addiction, disability and incarceration. One group we have served throughout our history is those people considered to be the “working poor,” who often struggle to support their families while overcoming limited education and multiple generations of poverty.

These are people who often work two or three low-paying, part-time jobs that, even combined, don’t provide enough income to cover everything their families need. Many live in suburban or rural areas where they might not have easy access to support services. Getting to and from work can be a challenge, as they don’t have easy access to public transportation or must accommodate the added expense of maintaining a car. For those working poor people who live in cities, finding decent, affordable housing has increasingly become a struggle as real estate prices rise and the poor are pushed out of their lifelong neighborhoods by gentrification.

Whether it’s a matter as complicated as access to health care, or as simple as providing supplies to children on the first day of school, Volunteers of America is hard at work making sure our nation’s low-income families receive the help they need. In recent years, we at Volunteers of America have embarked on a journey to better tell the stories of the people we serve and the work we do. For us, it’s much more than just a branding or marketing effort … it’s an attempt to define the essence of what we do and why we do it. By telling these stories, we hope to inspire the public to better-understand the experiences of our clients on a more emotional and empathetic level.

There are many factors today that hinder the ability of working poor families to rise above their current circumstances, and those factors became even more challenging during the economic downturn. Only by taking a holistic approach that addresses all of these factors, big and small, can we make any real progress toward helping these families live more prosperous, successful lives. For more information about Volunteers of America’s national network of diverse services, visit

Thank you,


Mike King